The Washington County Health Department was saddened by the tragic accident resulting in the recent death of Bensen Baker, the 2-year old who fell into the septic tank at his home. Although the health department does not have a septic inspection program, it does provide information to homeowners on proper installation and maintenance of these systems. One of the requirements of installation is that the septic tank must have a minimum of one opening for inspection and cleaning. However, the rules also state that the cover must be secured. The Health Department advises each home owner to inspect their system to determine that if the tank is covered and bolted so that another tragedy does not occur.
The Washington County Health Department has also been asked if an inspection program could have prevented such an accident. An inspection of this system prior to the occurrence of the accident may have found the uncovered tank and an order would have been written for immediate repair to correct this deficiency. It would have then been up to the homeowner to take corrective action and the health department would have re-inspected this property to ensure that this had occurred. Without the program, the health department can only inspect newly installed systems one year after installation, if there is a nuisance complaint registered, or if at the time of sale of the property, the mortgage institution orders an inspection of the system to be performed through the health department.
Should Washington County develop an inspection program? That is a question the Board of Health will be discussing in the next few months. Questions to be answered before the Board makes a decision include cost and management of the program for the department, enforcement of correction actions, and collection of fees associated with the program. Surrounding counties already have such programs in place. It is also hoped that a short survey can be made available for input from the public. The Washington County Health Department welcomes comments on this issue. Please let us know what you think so that these opinions can be expressed to the Board of Health members.
Speaking of septic systems, the Washington County Health Department is working closely with the County Commissioners to apply for funding for replacement and repair of failing septic systems. This was a very successful program in 2009 and is being repeated in 2011. Although the Commissioners do not know the amount of funding to be received, it is hoped that the county can replace or repair up to 30 systems. In the previous grant cycle, 23 systems were replaced or repaired. An announcement will be made on the eligibility requirements and application process as soon as the funds are released. However, if residents in Washington County know of systems that may require replacement, we ask that you call the Health Department at (740)374-2782 for more information of this program.
In other Health Department news, beginning in January the Washington County Health Department will be able to issue birth certificate abstracts for any individual born in the state of Ohio, not just Washington County.
This program has been several years in development and finally is a reality. This birth abstract is the legally recognized document that is needed for Social Security applications, passports, and any other identification needs requiring a certified copy of a birth certificate.
The cost of the certificate remains $25.
The Washington County Health Department takes this opportunity to wish everyone a Very Merry Christmas and a Safe and Healthy New Year.